When my daughter took off reading, she became obsessed with reading those cute little beginner chapter books.
Then she got stuck, only reading the same series over and over. Starting a book club for kids seemed like the answer for helping my shy girl meet some new friends who share her love of reading and could challenge her to break out and try some new titles.
I was intimidated by the idea of starting a book club, but as it developed, it became easier than I thought it would be!
Here are my tips for starting your own kids’ book club:
First, consider the following questions for your kids book club:
Who is it for?
Decide if it’s for girls, boys, kids of certain ages, or for whole families to do read-aloud books together.
How often will you meet?
We decided to have the kids read one book a month and meet once a month after finishing the book. There are so many options here, but one book a month was very easy to keep up with among other activity schedules. Each time we met, the book club kids were excited because it was spaced out enough to still be fun and special, not routine.
What books will you read?
This is the fun part! Read Aloud Revival is a great website that has extensive booklists for kids. A librarian at a local school is also one of the best resources you’ll find and they generally love talking (or e-mailing) about books for kids. The children’s librarians at our local public libraries are also amazing resources. I also recently discovered The Bookhouse which is a great local resource. I’m sure they’d love to help you find the right titles for your group.
Where do you get books?
After the books are chosen for the year, I sent out the book list to families. They were responsible for getting the books however they wanted, so it made it easy for me! I was also able to choose books that we already had and were meaning to read.
In addition to The Bookhouse, your nearest library and Thriftbooks were the most popular places to get books. Some members also used sites like Hoopla or Audible to listen to books. This also allows kids to participate who may not be advanced readers, but can still enjoy all the club has to offer!
What is your format?
This is where you make it easy. You can use the same format every time, so the only thing that changes each month is the book. Our format for book club was pretty simple and fun.
- Swap: Club members arrive with books to swap. The kids can bring books they enjoyed and trade with each other. This was a great way to get kids talking that may not know each other as well yet.
- Snack: Each member took turns supplying the snack. It could be simple or themed to the book. It was whatever the snack person wanted to do. Easy!
- Share: Each member can take turns being the discussion director and coming up with 5-10 open-ended questions to talk about. I purchased this Reading choice board. Each member chose an activity to do and bring to the group to share. The activities on these boards were pretty fun and no hassle for me.
- Simple craft: If you really want to keep it simple, you can skip this step. Our club was full of crafty little girls, so we had fun finding something to make that related to the book in some way. Pinterest made it pretty easy!
Because of COVID, we did transfer to Zoom and could mostly use the same format. Instead of swapping books, the kids were able to show a book they enjoyed and do a little book talk about why they recommended it. Readers supplied their own snack and instead of a craft, we did a game like charades or Pictionary (using the whiteboard screen on Zoom) using words or ideas related to the book.
So, why start a kids’ book club?
Beyond inspiring a love of reading and building friendships, being in book club helped the kids gain confidence in themselves. They had the opportunity to get comfortable speaking in front of a group, share ideas and opinions, back up what they think with evidence, and thoughtfully listen to one another. The book club was a great way to introduce kids to new ideas, points of view, and new favorite books they might have never picked up on their own.